Although sharing the same room with Caravaggio’s much more famous “Beheading of St. John the Baptist” in Valetta’s St. John’s Co-Cathedral, “St. Jerome writing” was for us THE sight to behold.
Compared to most famous depictions of the saint, that focus either on his saintly ordeals or portray him writing in a state of grandeur, Caravaggio snapshots an aged man who, despite getting frail and burdened by his holy task of translating the Bible into Latin, refuses to stop working. That vulnerably unclothed and slender torso, those tensed, wonderfully brushed, muscles pushing his body up with a certain feel of difficulty, that wrinkled and time-scared face and that ominous skull … all highlight a sense of urgency … for time is passing by and His lifework must be completed at any cost.
We have never seen a more beautiful nor moving depiction of human dedication to one’s mission. Caravaggio’s masterpiece truly feels like a meditation and reflection trigger for anyone pondering the efforts they are willing to assume to reach their lifelong dreams.